Shell Hydrogen will permanently close all seven of its California pumping stations immediately, the company confirmed this week. It will no longer operate light-duty hydrogen stations in the U.S., and represents another blow to the struggling hydrogen car market in the only state where the fuel is widely available at all.
The outlet Hydrogen Insight first reported the news on Thursday. Shell had, until recently, operated seven of the 55 total retail hydrogen stations in California, per the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership (H2FCP). That makes this a blow, but not apocalyptic news for the (small) hydrogen community.
Car manufacturers and gas giants alike have long promoted hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as an alternative to battery electric vehicles. The technology is promising for commercial trucking and heavy-duty applications, but the light-duty market has failed to materialize in the United States.
Unfortunately, the reason why Shell is closing up shop should give Toyota Mirai, Hyundai Nexo, and Honda Clarity Fuel Cell owners—God bless 'em—even more cause for concern. In the letter announcing the closure, Shell Hydrogen Vice President Andrew Beard said they were shutting them down "due to hydrogen supply complications and other external market factors." It's not hard to see what Beard is referencing here.